The Date and Time: Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:20 AM to 6PM
The Event: an all-day trip to Southbrook Vineyards to explore their current wines and some tank samples.
The Venue: Southbrook Winery
The Target Audience: 12 or so wine writers and bloggers
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines, save the tank samples, are available for sale via the winery. Some are at the LCBO.
The Quote/Background: We left later than expected and got into some traffic, but Bill Redelmeier, founder of Southbrook, settled us down on arrival by telling stories about the biodynamic nature of the winery. He was accompanied by Ann Sperling, director if winemaking and viticulture, Brian Hamilton, winemaker, and Scott Jones, vineyard manager (Scott had worked these vineyards for long before Bill actually bought the land). Bill's history of Southbrook included his philosophy that control of product quality was most important, regardless of price concerns. His family are strong believers in environment protection. He spoke about how, in biodynamics, everything is related and used to the maximum. Fir example, pests can be controlled by building up grape immune systems naturally. They reuse the water on the vineyards, recycled through filters of 40 feet of material. Their main problems revolve around humidity which creates unwanted fungus. Later, after the tour of the premises, we were refreshed with Pluck Tea Southbrook Berry Blend, a tea made and sold by Pluck, from dried red grapeskins, berries and hibiscus. And caffeine-free, enjoyed hot or iced. Later, with lunch, we had sparkling apple juice from Norfolk apples. And after the tasting we were exposed to the benefits of Bill's latest project, the bioflavia of organic grape skin powder (I already had a few litres of it back home).
The Wines: Southbrook is the first Canadian certified organic and biodynamic Niagara-based winery. It produces some four levels of wines (Connect, Triomphe, Whimsy! And Poetica) plus fruit wines and biodynamic ice wines. Some of the Triomphe wines we had only with lunch. 18 wines were poured.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2012, $22.95 retail.
-Southbrook Whimsy! "Richness" Chardonnay 2012, $34.95
-Southbrook Whimsy! "Renewed Vows" Cabernet Franc 2009, $34.95
-Southbrook Whimsy! Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, $34.95
-Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2011, $49.95
-Southbrook Poetica Red 2010, $54.95 [bordeaux-style blend]
-Southbrook Icewine 2010, $26.95 200 mL [biodynamic, wild yeast]
-Southbrook Whimsy! Semillon 2013, not yet released
-Southbrook Petit Verdot 2013, not yet released
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc 2012, $21.95 retail.
-Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, $22.95 retail.
-Southbrook Whimsy! Winemakers' White 2012, $34.95 [chardonnay/semillon/muscat]
-Southbrook Whimsy! "Married Young" 2009, $34.95 [cab sauv/cab franc]
-Southbrook Connect White 2012, $14.95 LCBO [vidal/gewurztraminer]
-Southbrook Connect Red 2012, $15.95 LCBO [6 grape varietals]
-Southbrook Whimsy! Syrah 2013, not yet released
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rose 2012, $19.95 retail.
-Southbrook Triomphe Sauvignon Blanc 2013, $21.95 retail.
The Food: sandwiches and salads, cakes and bars for dessert.
The Downside: the QEW gets worse every week...
The Upside: I had not been since the 2008 opening, and it was great to re-connect with the changes in the winery.
The Contact Person: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 91.